A spokesman for John Kerry who was cited in the senator’s Vietnam biography as a witness to “atrocities” in his battalion, privately revised his remarks when confronted by a colleague but has not corrected the public record.
John Hurley, national coordinator of Veterans for John Kerry and a member of the 69th Engineer Battalion in Vietnam, is cited in Douglas Brinkley’s “Tour of Duty,” which was published earlier this year.
” … John Hurley had befriended Kerry in early 1970. A veteran of the 69th Engineers operating in the Mekong Delta, Hurley had put in his yearlong tour of duty in 1967-8 and come home distraught and disaffected. What he had seen in Vietnam, including atrocities, had convinced him that U.S. Forces had to get out of Southeast Asia, and fast.”
Deeply offended by the allegation, another member of the 69th, Thomas Pardue, conducted an extensive investigation, poring over every available daily report from 1967 to 1971 and interviewing 48 fellow battalion members by e-mail.
“I did not hear a single allegation of an atrocity,” he told WorldNetDaily. “It would be impossible for anyone to say there was an atrocity.”
Pardue and Hurley both held the rank of 1st lieutenant in the 69th’s Company B.
Pardue said he tried to solve the problem directly with Hurley, leaving phone messages, e-mails and two certified letters, but never got a response, despite signed receipts showing the letters were received.
Finally, Pardue, who lives in Houston, sent a certified letter to Brinkley and got an immediate response, a phone message May 5 indicating the author had received a fax from Hurley instructing him to correct the matter.
Brinkley said it was his “blunder” and explained that Hurley intended or should have intended to use the word “horrors” instead of “atrocities.”
The author also reiterated that Hurley had not seen atrocities in Vietnam.
Brinkley told Pardue a new version of the Harper Collins book would be issued in two weeks, but three months later, the public record stands, besmirching the men who fought in the 69th.
“My sole goal was to get it corrected,” Pardue said. “I didn’t want it hanging on the reputations of men who died.”
Five of his men were killed in action, he said.
“One has a 14-year-old granddaughter,” he noted. “If she gets on the Internet — like most young people do — to learn about her grandfather, the next thing that comes up will be the entry from ‘Tour of Duty.’
“I feel honor-bound to get it corrected.”
Pardue said he received a phone call from Hurley a few days after Brinkley’s message. Hurley reiterated his contention that it was a mistake on Brinkley’s part. But Pardue wants to know why the public record still has not been set straight.
“The longer they linger, having already admitted that it’s wrong, the more malicious it looks on their part,” he said. “It looks like there is some other agenda driving whether they are willing to tell the truth about what happened in Vietnam.”
Brinkley has not returned a message from WND left with his associate, asking for a response, and Hurley, located at Kerry’s D.C. campaign headquarters, also has not replied.
Pardue said he thinks the impression given by “Tour of Duty” that Hurley was a witness to war crimes gives Kerry a “campaign advantage,” backing the assertion that atrocities were widespread.
Kerry has a responsibility to publicly correct “Tour of Duty,” Pardue insists.
“It’s his authorized biography,” he said. “There is not a word written without his authorization. He can get the change inserted tomorrow and should. But sadly, they were willing to let this wrongful, false information continue to be out there, which sullies the reputations of honorable dead men.”
Stands by claims
Hurley said in an interview last weekend on Fox News Sunday that Kerry stands by his claims in 1971 before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that U.S. soldiers in Vietnam regularly, and as a matter of official policy, committed war atrocities against innocent civilians.
He denied that Kerry had overstated the case against the war when he returned home as a spokesman for the Vietnam Veterans Against the War.
“John Kerry testified in 1971 to atrocities being committed in Vietnam,” said Hurley. “So also, the Toledo Blade has won a Pulitzer prize this year for the reporting on atrocities in Vietnam. General Tommy Franks has said John Kerry spoke the truth when he testified in 1971. The My Lai massacre was a fact of life back then. What they have done (in this ad) is they’ve taken a piece of John Kerry’s testimony, left out the part that says he was reporting, repeating the testimony that was given in Detroit at the Winter Soldier hearings, and presented it as his. And that’s wrong.”
Kerry, however, was the national spokesman for the group that conducted the widely discredited investigation. He was also an active participant in the hearings, not just a reporter taking notes. In 1971, Kerry also implicated himself in the commission of war crimes and atrocities.
In fact, Kerry began his testimony to the committee stating that he was representing all those veterans who participated in the hearings.
“I would like to talk, representing all those veterans, and say that several months ago in Detroit, we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged and many very highly decorated veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia, not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command,” he told the committee.
Kerry went on to explain: “They told the stories at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.”
Kerry added: “The country doesn’t know it yet, but it has created a monster, a monster in the form of millions of men who have been taught to deal and to trade in violence, and who are given the chance to die for the biggest nothing in history; men who have returned with a sense of anger and a sense of betrayal which no one has yet grasped.”
On Sunday, Hurley agreed with the testimony and said Kerry stands behind it.
“Absolutely,” Hurley said. “He’s a leader. He came back, and he spoke the truth.”
Asked repeatedly by Wallace if Kerry had overstated what happened in his testimony in 1971, Hurley emphatically said no.
“John Kerry says that he regrets the use of the language that may have offended some people,” Hurley said. “He is not — he stands behind the facts of his testimony. He stands behind the facts that atrocities were being committed in Vietnam.”
In fact, some of those presenting horror stories at the Jane Fonda-sponsored Winter Soldier Investigation in Detroit had misrepresented themselves as Vietnam War vets – even using the names of other veterans who did not attend the hearings. Several veterans provided sworn affidavits that others spoke in their names.